All That Has Transpired: Florida Panthers

We’re going to take a look at each NHL team, breaking down every new addition and subtraction, as well as promising prospects.

Today, we take a look at the Florida Panthers.

By: Melissa Esing (@Off_thePost)

FLA

FLORIDA PANTHERS

2013-14 Season: 29-45-8  66 points – (7th Atlantic Division; 15th Eastern Conference)

Aaron Ekblad was selected first overall in the 2014 draft by the Florida Panthers. This was the first time in 20 years the Panthers received a first overall pick. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Aaron Ekblad was selected first overall in the 2014 draft by the Florida Panthers. This was the first time in 20 years the Panthers received a first overall pick. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Free Agents Signed:
C Dave Bolland (Toronto)
LW Jussi Jokinen (Pittsburgh)
LW Derek MacKenzie (Columbus)
D Willie Mitchell (Los Angeles)
G Al Montoya (Winnipeg)
D Blake Parlett (Boston)
RW Shawn Thornton (Boston)

Free Agents Lost:
G Scott Clemmensen (New Jersey)
D Tom Gilbert (Montreal)
D Matt Gilroy (Europe)
LW Mattias Lindstrom (Europe)
C Jon Matsumoto (Europe)
RW/LW Jesse Winchester (Colorado)

Trades:
*No postseason trades

Promising Prospects:
D Aaron Ekblad
D Michael Matheson
C Vincent Trocheck
C Rocco Grimaldi
D Ian McCoshen

The Florida Panthers might just be the team to watch this season, after a harsh 2013-14 season. It was very familiar territory for them. This is a team that sits in the NHL’s bottom 10 finishers from the 2013-14 season, but keep a close eye on them. As of right now, their roster is looking young, fresh and full of depth.

 One significant thing to keep in mind is that the Panthers are now looking at their third coach within a year. Kevin Dineen was replaced by Peter Horachek, which made things start to look up in the second half of the season. Horachek was replaced by Gerard Gallant on June 21.

The Panthers managed to gain some solid additions to their roster. I’m looking at you, Jussi Jokinen. While it pained many Pittsburgh Penguins fans to see a player of his caliber go, this could be huge for Florida. Jokinen is a veteran to the league, and he also adds quite a bit of flexibility to this roster. It’ll be interesting to see how well he does in Florida, as he will no longer be playing next to Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin and James Neal. This could make a huge difference. Overall, after the season he just had in Pittsburgh, he could potentially be gold for the Panthers. It was an investment well worth it. However, Dave Bolland might just be the exact opposite.

Many look at this as potentially one of the worst moves of the offseason. At $5.5 million per season, one would think they’re receiving a player at the top of his game. Bolland is not quite there right now. He only played 23 games this past season due to a major injury. He’s not a scorer, and he’s not the decent third-line center he once was. Aside from the team making those decisions, there are a few other factors that’ll change things up and make it interesting this season.

An aspect that will give the Panthers a huge boost this season is Robert Luongo as a starter (for a full campaign) with Al Montaya as a backup. Compared to last season’s goaltending situation, they needed this change. This itself could make a world of difference, full of stability. Another comparison to look at is last season’s offensive situation. The team high in goals was Brad Boyes with 21 goals, while Nick Bjugstad had a team high of 38 points.

Last season, the Panthers’ power play and penalty kill units finished last in the league. It can only be up from here, right? They should start to see more success, especially with the development of players such as Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau and  Aleksander Barkov.

There are two ways you can look at this team for this upcoming season. The youth of the team could carry this team, along with the solid goaltending situation. The alternate possibility is the youth of the team could develop slower than expected, enabling the same lack of scoring that Florida saw last season. Either way you look at it, their rebuild will be one to keep a close eye on.

Projected Lineup:

Jussi Jokinen – Aleksander Barkov – Brad Boyes
Jonathan Huberdeau – Nick Bjugstad – Scottie Upshall
Tomas Fleischmann – Dave Bolland – Sean Bergenheim
Tomas Kopecky – Brandon Pirri – Jimmy Hayes
Derek MacKenzie – Shawn Thornton

Brian Campbell – Dmitry Kulikov
Willie Mitchell – Erik Gudbranson
Dylan Olsen – Aaron Ekblad
Colby Robak

Roberto Luongo
Al Montoya